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Colorado’s Uncommitted Superdelegates

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As Hillary Clinton continues to chase Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination—on Tuesday she defeated Obama in the Pennsylvania primary, keeping her campaign alive for at least another few weeks—the only group that can end the race remains hunkered down on the sidelines. Despite pleas from DNC chair Howard Dean and others, about 35 percent of the party’s superdelegates—including six of Colorado’s fourteen—remain uncommitted to either Obama or Clinton.

So far, Obama and Clinton have split Colorado’s decided superdelegates, a group that includes both party and elected officials. In Obama’s camp: Congressman Ed Perlmutter, party vice-chair Dan Slater, and DNC members Debbie K. Marquez and J.W. Postal. Clinton, meanwhile, has the support of Congresswoman Diana DeGette, and three DNC members: Mannie Rodriguez, Ramona Martinez, and Maria Handley.

Uncommitted so far? Governor Bill Ritter, Senator Ken Salazar, Congressmen Mark Udall and John Salazar, former governor Roy Romer, and Pat Waak, the state party chair.

When 5280 contacted the undecideds, all declined to state when they’d be declaring. Taylor West, communications director for Mark Udall, told us that Udall would make an announcement after the last primary in June. “He wants to allow the full primary process to play out,” says West. Cody Wertz, Ken Salazar’s communications director, said much the same: “There are still several states left to vote. The senator wants the people to have their voice heard first.”

The spin doctors are correct, in a sense: primaries or caucuses for seven states still remain, as do Guam and Puerto Rico. But Colorado’s voters have spoken—a long time ago. Obama won 67 percent of the Colorado caucus vote on Super Tuesday in early February, netting him 35 Colorado pledged delegates to Clinton’s 20.

Instead of casting their vote with the Colorado electorate—or taking the politically tougher stance of going against the state’s voters—Salazar, Udall, and company seem to be making a calculated, potentially self-serving choice. By staying on the sidelines as long as possible, they’re ensuring that they won’t back the wrong horse too soon—something that could destroy their chances of playing a major role in a Democratic president’s administration. Salazar, for one, has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate, and Udall and Ritter are seen as rising stars in the party.

Either that, or they really want to see which way Guam goes.

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